Is There a Very Bad, Lazy Attitude in City Hall ?

Who Is Responsible For Not Terminating Ford?

hank4BY: HANK |
August 29 2013 21:19
This afternoon I was reviewing on my DVR the Port Orange City Council meeting of Aug. 27, 2013
Just before I had to leave to have supper with Joan in Halifax Hospital, I was watching some of the members of the audit and budget advisory board speaking to the council people.
I knew already that I wanted to write an editorial with my comments about some of the thoughts offered by the advisory board.
After my hospital visit I returned to watching that segment of the city council meeting and I learned that councilman Ford had expressed the exact same thoughts I had.
Some of the advisory board members spoke about moving forward and putting the past behind.  I do not know if there is an internal problem among the advisory board members about bringing up the past, but if there is, I see no reason to present and address what they see as a problem, to the city council people, and to the public.
To me it seemed like the board members wanted to be part of a team with the city council, and be accepted as such.  Among those board members what seems to be forgotten, is that the board members are supposed to be representing the citizens of Port Orange and communicating their findings to the public. All well and good to want to serve the council members, but as some of them noted, the advisory board is looking for direction and tasks to be sent to them from the council members.
The city council has expressed their embarrassment with the discovered negligence within city operations.  What has not been clearly established, is that the city council should be taken to task for being accountable for what happened in city government.
The advisory board should remember as they look over audits and budgets, that it is incumbent for the board to remind the city council members of their responsibility and accountability to correct what needs to be corrected.  If the advisory board thinks that they should just be an adjunct to the finance department, and go over financial reports and statistics, then I see no need for the advisory board.  We had that kind of reporting in the past from the financial department and departmental heads, and documents from auditing firms. None of that worked.  If the advisory board wants to work as a team for someone, I suggest they work as a team for the taxpayer and citizen of Port Orange.  There was no mention from any of the advisory board members about their responsibility to report to the public.
As councilman Ford said, as we go forward with the advisory board, they should not forget the mistakes that were made in the past.  All is lost if the advisory board does not intend to keep in mind how the city’s finances got into internal operational problems.
I do not think it is the duty of the advisory board to present an implication that repeated knocking down of  the positions in city government that were responsible for the problems, is detrimental.   The political ramifications that management and city council endure are not those that the advisory board should try to alleviate or remedy.  Only future progress in making corrections will help make the embarrassment grow less.  The embarrassment should never be forgotten.
It is telling that no direction from the council members has  yet been presented to the advisory board.  I suggest this is so, because the council members still (with the exception of councilman Ford and perhaps Kennedy) do not understand that they themselves are part of the problem, and do not fully understand how they are accountable for what goes wrong in city operations.
I am here to tell the city council members, that they still do not get it.  They do not understand control, and they do not understand accountability, or refuse to embrace those concepts.  Perhaps with the exception of Kennedy, (who is beginning to surprise me), and councilman Ford, all the other city council members should go through some kind of training in responsibilities and accountability.
The city council had been presented with the bizarre situation where a council member who represented the other council members on the TPO, told them he was going to vote as a board member on  the TPO, contrary to the wishes of the Port Orange city council.
A vote by the Port Orange city council was held to terminate that counci lmember.
Green voted to terminate Ford. If only he had acted in a similar fashion before Parker carried out his deal with the former finance director.
Kennedy voted to terminate Ford.
Bastian voted not to terminate Ford.
Ford voted not to terminate Ford.
The deciding vote fell on Burnette and he voted not to terminate Ford.
Where is the accountability for council members to do what needs to be done?
In this editorial I do not discuss whether Ford was right or wrong to go against the wishes of the city council, but I focus on what to me is so obvious.  Those who did not vote to terminate Ford cannot in my mind be expected to do the right thing in more serious matters.
And so dear advisory board members do not expect real jobs and tasks coming to you from the city council, other than Ford and Kennedy.  They do not yet feel such looking into city matters is their responsibility and don’t see how they are accountable for the inadequate performance of a city manager or finance director or the finance department supervisors.
If you notice, the city council members are afraid to put in real controls into the operations of city hall, I think because  they are afraid of  upsetting the “We Are Family” atmosphere.  Remember, Green told me that he did not tell the other city council members about the imminent deal between Parker and Shelley, because he was afraid of inflaming the issue resulting in a possible large number of city employees quitting .
Let them quit if they don’t like inspection and control.  There are a lot of people out there who would like to have their jobs.
I have yet to see anyone checking on anyone in city hall. There is a lot of talk, projections and planning for control remedies, but none going on right now, when the control techniques are needed right now more than ever, and just as important in the future.
It seems to me, that among the city council members and the city manager, no one has the guts to do inspections and put real control techniques in place.  The way it looks to me is that Parker’s form of management will continue.  He told his supervisors what to do and what policy to carry out, and Parker assumed it was all being done.
There has been no change in operational matters and if I am wrong show me.  And I expect there will be no change in control of operational matters in the months and years to come.
They are all afraid to upset the happy little working atmosphere, and will rely on audits to point out what is going wrong, even though  the audits failed to do so in the past.
No wonder LaCour walked all over them.  No wonder why the YMCA will get their money.  No wonder why we will put more funds into a money losing golf course.
And show me:
Who right now is working to make sure that tow franchise fees and billboard advertisement fees are being collected?  I know the answer – I will be told who the person is who is assigned to get those fees in.  But, Mr. Kisela, tell me if I am wrong, is there a supervisor who is tasked to check that the tow fees and billboard fees are being collected, and a requirement that the supervisor submit a written report  to the City Manager indicating  the date of inspection , and verification by the supervisor that the appropriate fee had been deposited in the bank.   When is that little control technique going into effect?  The end of September. We knew about that shortcoming, last year.  Are we again going to wait for an end of the year external audit report to discover that all this was not done?
My god, all this “Can’t We All get along” attitude in America is sickening.  Some of those people over there in city hall are making good money, and yet they are afraid of carrying out their responsibilities, and will not embrace a control attitude, which understands the  need to check on each other, to make sure things are going ok, and not run the risk of being embarrassed again, and losing millions of tax payers’ money.
There is a very bad, lazy attitude in City Hall, and please advisory board do not catch the “We Are Family” disease.
Hank springer
P.S. don’t bother telling me how hard city employees are working to remedy operational defects.  I know they are, because of all the attention that has been given to fixing the problems.
But if no real controls, where by supervisors check on employees do not start taking place, all will be well again, quiet, happily functioning in the soothing melody of the great vision for Port Orange.  I am reminded of the stance always presented to me, by inference or attitude, — this is the greatest local government in the annals of history, and no need to suspect that maybe something is not right in city hall.
Hank springer

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